This blog follows on in our series entitled “it’s all about” where we will explore some moving and incredible stories of people who have moved closer to their vision of a good life and started making their contribution in their community.
All the stories are real, names and some details have been changed to ensure anonymity.
It’s all about…having no pre-defined agenda
A few weeks ago, a Local Area Coordinator told me about a time he met with a man for the first time who was very suspicious of his offer of support. The man told the Coordinator he’d had a number of services in his life before and felt somewhat frustrated (to put it politely) of not yet getting to where he wanted to be. He challenged the Coordinator saying “so, what’s your agenda then?” to which the Local Area Coordinator replied “I have no agenda, but yours”.
I really liked this anecdote. The Coordinator’s response was simple, clear and fundamentally true. The Local Area Coordination approach starts with someone’s vision of a better life. It’s rooted in principles such as the importance of relationships, natural authority, choice and control.
Not defining what a good life should look like for someone else sounds obvious when you say it out loud. However, the reality is our agendas in health and social care are often packed with pre-determined outcomes we expect people to embrace as a result of particular funding or organisational objectives. Working without this agenda though is often liberating for all involved. While some might argue otherwise, it’s clear from the evidence from Local Area Coordination research that being truly person-centred achieves the results everyone wants.
Take for example this story here which shows Alison achieving a huge number of outcomes for herself – improvement in physical health, reduced anxiety, maintaining tenancy, reduced social isolation, getting into volunteering, etc – without the support from Local Area Coordinator Tammy ever being expressly focussed on these particular outcomes.
Alison was introduced to Local Area Coordinator Tammy by a Care Management Officer in Social Services. Alison told Tammy that she had a learning disability and lives independently although she found it difficult to socialise in groups because of her anxiety. She had become very isolated since stopping work and being unable to volunteer and she also had health concerns around her diet and lifestyle. Alison’s family were very supportive but keen that Alison formed new friendships in her community as she could become quite low due to her isolation.
Tammy and Alison spent time getting to know each other and built a trusting relationship together. As their relationship strengthened Alison started to feel comfortable to visit some local community cafés with Tammy. After meeting people at the cafés Alison went on to visit these independently every week and is exploring other new activities and groups.
In time, Tammy also supported Alison to connect with a healthy eating programme where she was able to get healthy eating and healthy meal preparation advice which she practices at her flat.
Tammy continues to support Alison whenever she needs it and they plan to explore other groups or activities she may like to join too, specifically those which will help her achieve her goals of becoming healthy and active. Tammy and Alison are also exploring new volunteering opportunities as this was something which brought Alison great joy.